Academic Research: Reading and Writing about a Defining Moment

Instructions: Read the two essays below and answer the following questions about them.

To fully understand the context of the stories, it is necessary to know something about the authors, about when they lived and what their lives were like, so read the short biographies of two very influential 20th Century writers, Langson Hughes and George Orwell. Take the ancillary links from those pages to deepen your knowledge about these two very influential writer's lives. Then read their stories about defining moments in their lives. The primary question we will explore when we discuss the stories is how the choices that both Orwell and Hughes make in these stories represent *defining moments in their own lives, in other words how these incidents define them as the men they later become. Hmm . . .


by Langston Hughes


george orwell

Shooting an Elephant

by George Orwell


Instructions: Copy and paste everything between the lines below into a M.S. Word document to input your answers.

You may use or or any other dictionary of your choice to define the terms.

Write your answers in complete, grammatically correct sentences.  (One or two will suffice; you need not write lengthy paragraphs in response.)

“Shooting an Elephant”

Define the following words as they are meant in the context of the essay.

1.  petty

2.  imperialism

3.  cowed

4.  supplant

5.  prostrate

6.  despotic

7. in saecula saeculorum

8.  labyrinth

9.  conjurer

10.  tyrant

11.  senility

12.  pretext


13.  What paragraphs make up the introduction of the essay?  The body of the essay?  The conclusion?

14.  With what sentence does the narrative proper begin?

15.  Is the thesis of the essay stated outright or implied? What is the thesis statement of the essay?


16.  Why did the natives hate Orwell?

17.  Why did Orwell hate his job?

18.  Why did Orwell shoot the elephant?


Define the following terms as they are meant in the context of the essay.

19.  revival

20.  knickerbockered

21.  punctuated

22.  ecstatic


23.  Is the thesis of the essay stated outright or implied? What is the thesis statement of the essay?

24.  How does Westley’s attitude differ from Langston’s?

25.  Why can’t Langston tell Auntie Reed the truth about his experience in the church?

*Defining moments: Everyone experiences incidents in his or her life which have major significance as milestones or turning points. Such incidents not only shape who we are, but also become a part of our personal history and help us to understand who we are; they reveal something important to us about ourselves, about other people, or about life in general. These are defining moments in our lives.

Hughes and Orwell Assignments: Documented summaries of "Salvation" and "Shooting an Elephant" with one direct quote A researched essay showing how the story by one of these writers was a defining moment in his life (4 full pages, all sources are documented) Personal narrative: A Defining Moment (or most important learning experience) in your own life

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